Split-Sample Tests of “No Opinion” Responses in an Attribute-Based Choice Model

Eli P. Fenichel, Frank Lupi, John P. Hoehn and Michael D. Kaplowitz


Researchers using questionnaires to elicit preferences must decide whether to include response options that allow respondents to express “no opinion.” Using a split-sample design, we explore the implications of alternative answer formats including and not including no-opinion responses in an attribute-based choice experiment. The results indicate that using multiple no-opinion responses may enable researchers to differentiate between respondents who choose no-opinion options due to satisficing and those expressing utility indifference. Existing literature suggests no-opinion responses may be treated as “no,” but our results show treating no-opinion responses as “no” can yield substantially disparate preference estimates. (JEL C25, Q24, Q25, Q51)

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